The growing likelihood of excessive, potentially record-breaking heat toward the end of July has one Minnesota meteorologist issuing a strong cautionary message for Northern Minnesota.

At this point, it is certainly no secret that it has been a hot and dry summer for Minnesota. A handful of heatwaves and one of the driest starts to a year on record have created conditions that have prompted concerns over fires and brought about burning restrictions across the region.

These hot and dry conditions have led to fires in the US West and across Canada, leading to smoke-related impacts across the Northland.

Last weekend, former TV meteorologist Sven Sundgaard pointed out that record-breaking heat could be on the way into the end of July, and that appears to be more likely as NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has issued a forecast that identifies a risk of excessive heat to end the month.

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In that outlook, the CPC includes almost all of Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin in an area where excessive heat is probable from July 22 through July 24, as seen below.

NOAA Climate Prediction Center
NOAA Climate Prediction Center

The highest risk of excessive heat, as seen below, is in Northwestern Minnesota and into North Dakota, with towns like Grand Rapids, Crosslake, and International Falls just within the border of the highest risk area. In the moderate risk area are the Twin Ports, St. Cloud, Twin Cities, Minnesota Arrowhead, and Northwestern Wisconsin.

NOAA Climate Prediction Center
NOAA Climate Prediction Center

The forecast says "There continues to be high confidence regarding excessive heat expanding across the north-central contiguous U.S. during week-1 and persisting into week-2, with parts of the Northern Great Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley possibly experiencing maximum temperatures near or greater than 100 degrees F on multiple days and potentially reaching or exceeding daily records." The written forecast goes on to point out to the key dates are between July 22-July 24.

Obviously excessive heat can be dangerous for people and animals, and usual precautions to prevent heat-related illness or issues should be observed during this time. The concern mentioned off the top of this story that a Minnesota meteorologist is raising actually combines the heat and dry conditions.

At the end of a weather outlook for MPR News, staff meteorologist for the organization Paul Huttner made an ominous comment for people that own property or live in Northern Minnesota.

At the end of the post, Huttner expressed "extreme concern" for the growing potential of "large, fast-moving wildfires with extreme fire behavior" in the northern half of the state through the next few weeks.

He commented "If you own property in northern Minnesota now is a good time to increase your fire protection plan and buffers around structures."

Yikes. That doesn't sound good at all.

His message does further echo growing concerns as drought conditions across the region continue to get worse as the summer season goes on. Heat, especially excessive heat like we could see at the end of July, will further dry out already dry forests and grassy areas and create even more dangerous conditions for fires.

As of Wednesday, the fire risk for a vast majority of Northern Minnesota is high to very high. Even in areas where there is a moderate risk, concern should be high

Aside for hoping for rain and taking the advice Huttner offered about your property, the need to be extremely careful about potential sources that could spark fires is more important than ever before. Heed fire bans, be cautious about any potential sources of sparks or flame that could ignite a fire that could quickly get out of control with such dry conditions.

One particular area of concern from the Minnesota DNR is from equipment-based ignition of fires. This includes farm, construction, logging, and even lawn equipment that could generate enough heat to ignite dry materials.

Tips offered by the DNR include:

  • Make sure equipment has undergone maintenance and is fire safe, including use of an approved spark arrester on all internal combustion-powered equipment.
  • When hauling equipment, take care to ensure trailer chains are not dragging, as this can create sparks on roadways.
  • Always check current fire danger conditions at the DNR statewide fire danger and burning restrictions map and adjust or postpone operations as necessary.

Here's hoping for some rain sometime soon. In the meantime, here are some tips to beat the heat as it comes into the region.

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Give these a try during a heatwave.

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